Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price’s Federal Bribery Trial Starts Tuesday

What’s at stake for one of the most visible African-American political voices in North Texas?

By Bill Zeeble February 21, 2017 9:30 am| , , ,

From KERA:

Soon after John Wiley Price was arrested in the summer of 2014, a swarm of reporters and cameras surrounded the longtime county commissioner. He didn’t say much.

“Not guilty.”

‘This is a raw deal’  

John Wiley Price’s Executive Assisant, Dapheny Fain, was also charged. So were two political consultants, Kathy Nealy and Christian Campbell.

Sarah Saldaña, then the U.S. Attorney, laid out to reporters the case in the 13-count indictment.

“Commissioner Price sponsored and advocated Mrs. Nealy’s clients’ interests,” Saldaña said. “And he voted on those matters in a manner that benefited her clients. In return, Mrs. Nealy provided Commissioner Price with a stream of benefits, in the form of cars, land and cold, hard cash, totaling approximately $950,000.”

Price is charged with 11 counts, including conspiracy to commit bribery and depravation of honest services by mail fraud. He is accused of leaking confidential information on contract bids to the clients of Nealy and Campbell to help these businesses land the contracts.

Soon after Price’s arrest, longtime supporters like Deborah Culberson came to his side.

“This is a raw deal. This is a very successful man. He pulled himself up, didn’t have anything. Came here trying to help people. And all the people he’s trying to help? A lot of them are stabbing him in the back,” Culberson said.

The late Juanita Wallace, who was president of the Dallas NAACP chapter when Price was arrested, talked with KERA in 2014.

“African Americans, he has stood up for us when other people have not,” Wallace said. “It appears to me it’s a high-level profiling issue. It’s another way to say to everybody: If we can bring John Wiley Price down with some of the accusations, we can bring every other person down.”

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Jury selection began Tuesday in the federal corruption trial of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price. He faces charges of accepting nearly $1 million in bribes in exchange for providing insider information and for voting in favor of certain projects.

Some are calling it the “most anticipated political corruption case in Dallas history,” but matters of race play a role as well. Bill Zeeble of KERA North Texas says that Wiley is one of the most visible African-American political voices in that part of the state.

Zeeble says that Price’s supporters believe race was a factor in these indictments.

“It’s one thing to allegedly take a bribe or evade taxes, it’s another for that party or person to make the bribe or offer the money,” Zeeble says, “In that case, some of those parties may be businesses led by white people, non African-Americans. They’re not indicted.”

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– How John Wiley Price has responded to the allegations
– The details of the 13-count indictment
– What supporters of Price are saying to defend him

Written by Emma Whalen.